“The Shawl”: Rosa Lublin is freezing and starving on a forced march to a Nazi concentration camp. She is carrying her infant daughter, Magda, wrapped up and hidden in a linen shawl. Rosa’s teenage niece, Stella, walks alongside her and sometimes carries Magda, who sucks on a corner of the shawl when Rosa can no longer nurse her. She thinks about offering her daughter to one of the village women she passes along the way, but she also knows that if she steps out of line she will be shot.
Now at the camp, Magda is beginning to walk. Rosa hides her in the camp barracks by keeping her covered in the shawl. One day, Stella takes the shawl and falls asleep wrapped in it; Magda toddles outside into the sunlight, crying in her first attempt at speech. Rosa stops to find the shawl before running to catch Magda. She sees a German soldier in the distance, carrying Magda toward the electrified fence surrounding the camp. Rosa stuffs the shawl into her own mouth to keep from screaming, as the soldier throws Magda into the fence, killing her.
Rosa: Forty years later, Rosa, now fifty-eight years old, lives in a filthy one-room apartment in Miami. She had owned a second-hand shop in Brooklyn, New York, but vandalized it herself, using a hammer to destroy everything in it. Her niece, Stella, lives in New York and supports Rosa financially. The two women communicate in letters; Stella threatens Rosa with commitment to a mental institution, while Rosa thinks Stella is the...
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